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Look at Nelson Heights may spur change in county practices
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While David Sawyer’s reporting on the Bear Creek Reservoir project, SPLOST and Impact Fees and the county’s landfill was released Monday, in May, the accountant with Frazier and Deeter, released his findings on the Washington Street and Nelson Heights Community centers.

During that report, which he presented to the Board of Commissioners (BOC) during a work session, he detailed total expenditures of $42,648 “which constitute financial damage to Newton County and appear to result from waste and abuse of taxpayer funds. In his report, Sawyer said Nelson heights Community Services (NHCS) Inc., which has District 4 Commissioner J.C. Henderson as an officer and founder, was the beneficiary of these funds.

Of the more than $40,000 in expenditures, Sawyer said $17,039 were in legal fees to then-county attorney Tommy Craig.

“For the fiscal year ended June 30, 2015, Newton County paid $7,063 to the law firm of William Thomas Craig, Esq., for legal services on behalf of NHCS, Inc. Sawyer said. “This amount comprised 18 percent of the annual Newton County appropriation for NHCS. No documentation was provided by Newton County, to determine the purpose or propriety of these expenditures.”

Both Craig and Henderson said since the initial report on Nelson Heights came out in March they have not been contacted about the legal expenses.

Some of those legal expenses, Henderson said, went to land purchases. He also said the board of commissioners signed off on Nelson Heights expenses.

“I’m scratching my head trying to figure out how I did something illegal and wrong when every piece of the property, every check, every reimbursement they signed off on it. [Sawyer] didn’t show none of that.”

Sawyer did show that $1,200 went to Henderson or his family for services at the center, and that the center spent more than its $40,000 in appropriations paid for by the county. For a detailed report on those findings see

To combat some of these questions in the future, District 3 Commissioner Nancy Schulz said the county may look at how it handles appropriations.

“We definitely have to look at if we do we have audit capability [appropriations] and set what are going to be the requirements of those appropriations and what is going to be our ongoing accountability of those appropriations to be able to receive money,” she said.

In Sawyer’s accounting report, he recommended that “further investigative steps be performed by law enforcement authorities, to determine whether or not criminal activity has occurred.”